German Chancellor Angela Merkel was enrolled in the Estonian e-residency program during her two-day visit to Tallinn, Estonia in August. Merkel is now Estonia’s e-resident No. 11,867.
Merkel visited Estonia during her European trip, which included meeting leaders from 15 countries in 6 different cities. In Estonia, Merkel met with President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves and with Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
During her visit, Merkel delivered a speech entitled “Estonia – a pioneer in digital technology – and Germany – a global industrial power – shaping the future of Europe together” at the SpaceX Event Centre, where Prime Minister Rõivas presented her with an e-Resident ID-card.
Following Merkel’s visit, the Government’s press body released a statement saying that Chancellor Angela Merkel has had a sustained interest in the success story of e-Estonia. It was on Chancellor Merkel’s invitation that Taavi Rõivas visited Germany in May this year to attend a German cabinet retreat in Meseberg. At the meeting, the Prime Minister presented an overview of the modern digital state and cyber security, highlighting Estonian e-government and cyber security experience.
“I hope that my visit to Meseberg this spring and Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Tallinn today will lay the foundations for concrete cooperation between Estonia and Germany in the field of IT,” said Rõivas during his meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Estonian IT companies and experts are keen to cooperate with Germans in order to find new solutions to boost our economies and improve the lives of our citizens,” Rõivas noted.
“Our era requires open and positive forward-focused thinking,” said Rõivas according to an Estonian government press release. “Pooling Estonia’s and Germany’s strengths provides a great opportunity for a Europe facing new challenges. Estonia’s expertise in information technology and Germany’s industrial might must be turned into an engine that gives a new impetus to Europe’s economies. I know that Estonian IT companies and professionals are ready for such cooperation.”
Sustained interest in the success of e-Estonia
German media outlets were not saving kind words when it came to reporting on Merkel’s visit to Estonia.
German news agency DPA noted that the Chancellor was amazed by digitized Estonia and hopes to cooperate more with the Baltic states.
German news outlet Deutsche Welle wrote in length about the visit, noting that the German people are very interested in Estonian e-government and e-security solutions, as illustrated by the fact that the meeting, which was originally supposed to last for only an hour, ended up being more than two hours long.
German national news outlet ZDF called Estonia the “internet wonderland” and noted that Estonia is the digital pioneer in Europe. ZDF used headlines like “Startup Mecca”, “Estonian answer to Brexit” and “Estonia as a role model” when it came to reporting Merkel’s visit, as reported by Estonian news outlet Postimees.
ZDF added that the internet is a basic human right in Estonia, Wi-Fi is available everywhere and the Estonian government has worked paper-free for the last 16 years. The outlet also sees Estonian e-solutions as the answer to the UK leaving the European Union.
In addition to everything e-related, Rõivas and Merkel visited the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn, which is one of the main reasons for Merkel’s visit to Estonia. Germany is the defense center’s second largest contributor after Estonia; the decision to become a founding member of the center was made by Merkel’s first government.
Germany is also in the process of implementing an important reform in developing its cyber security including, among other innovations, the launch of its national cyber command.